I can only speak from my own experience. I have nursed 2 babies until they were 14 months old each. So, I do have a little experience. And, I am 100% pro-nursing. Although, one thing I think no one ever really said about nursing was the ugly truth. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Here is what I can tell you:
Nursing is wonderful. You do bond with your baby. You do love it. But, it is also hard. When I had my daughter this is the one thing that I think I kept saying to myself, “Why did no one tell me how hard it was going to be to nurse?” I think this is why so many women give up. It is hard. You do have to be dedicated and diligent. But, I don’t judge. I have many friends who choose not to nurse. To each their own, I say. We all know the benefits of nursing, but the truth is that it isn’t easy.
So, what’s so hard about it? I’m going to tell you.
1. It hurts. For me, my milk came in about 2 days with my first child. And, there was more than enough to go around. It felt like I had enough milk to feed 100 babies. I’m lucky that way. Your breasts will be very hard at first. Sometimes even for a month or two. However, your body does adjust, and eventually, they will level out to just what your baby needs. I never had bleeding, or sores, but many women do. So, this is to be expected when you and your baby are adjusting.
2. It’s exhausting. Every 2 hours is normal at first. Even at night. So be prepared.
3. Like I said before, I had more than enough milk to go around. While it did even out, I always had problems with leakage. I had to wear breast pads with both children the entire time I was nursing. 14 months of wearing breast pads is not fun. But, for me, they were absolutely necessary because I never knew when I would leak.
4. You have to sit still. This is a positive and a negative. I felt a little (or a lot) tied down. I watched with envy as other mothers left their babies in the carseat and propped a bottle up with blankets and went about their lives. The plus side was more time one on one with my baby. Undisturbed, uninterrupted, and bonding. It’s true.
5. It’s like a balancing act. I was always a discreet nurser, but when you have to do it in public, it can be challenging. Whether it just be when you have a friend over, or you are on an airplane (which I did many times with my first), it is hard to get the hang of that blanket and be discreet. You will get the hang of it in no time though. Pretty soon, you’ll be so fast at feeding your baby, it will become second nature.
6. You can feel trapped. You have to schedule your life around the baby’s feeding schedule. I often felt like I couldn’t go far, because I had to be back in 2 hours. But, you learn to work around it.
7. Pumping seems impossible at first. Know that when you first start pumping, you will get very little breastmilk. Your body has to adjust to the pump. Your baby is most likely getting more during a feeding than what you see the pump putting out. But, as you pump more, you will get more.
While all of these may feel discouraging, the benefits do outweigh the negatives. Truly. If you can stick with it, you will feel a great sense of pride as you watch your baby grow in those first 4 months (and more) and know that they are getting all their nutrition from you. It’s an amazing feeling. I just wish someone would have kept it a little more real for me. Hopefully I did that here.